It wasn't meant to be like this. This year I was going to have plenty of time to take things easy. I was to spend the summer meandering along the cut, calling in at events such as the BCN Challenge and the Braunston Working Boat Rally as the mood took me; returning home for a few days as and when required or when I felt like it. Then we decided to move house. We decided to sell and buy as two separate operations - moving into rented property in between. It certainly made the actual selling and buying much much easier but it's turned the move into a long-drawn out process in which significant events are happening at the most inconvenient times.
I never got to the Marathon Challenge and only got to Braunston by dint of a four day race from Norbury, which may have been enjoyable but certainly wasn't what I'd originally had in mind! Then, I'd hoped to spend the weekend at Braunston and meet up with some of the other bloggers whose blogs I've been following and who sometimes read this rubbish in return. But it was not to be. I did see Sarah aboard Chertsey (and recognised Bones amongst the cargo) but they were stuck in the middle of the morning boat parade which lasted until late afternoon. Herbie was moored not far away from me, but I didn't see Neil at all and I didn't realise that "Halfie" was aboard Shadow, which is a shared-ownership boat. A few bloggers seem to have made their way to the beer tent on Saturday night, but I couldn't stand the noise that passed for entertainment (I don't actually need entertainment to entice me to drink beer!). Then on the Sunday, when half the boating blogosphere seems to have been there I had to leave on another marathon dash back to Norbury. Getting away soon after 8.30 I headed up the Oxford Canal to Hillmorton,where I took a short break to allow the two boats in front and one behind to all get out of the way, before making my way down the three locks there. I stopped at Newbold for lunch and to top-up the suncream (some medication I'm on makes me extremely sensitive to sunlight and also means no shorts or tee-shirts for me even in a heatwave). I was at Hawkesbury Junction by 5.45 where I put the kettle on whilst in the queue for the stop lock and made the tea while I was in it. After a perfect rounding of the 180 degree turn onto the Coventry Canal I was complimented by a spectator saying "You've obviously done that before!" (Although it's easy in a mere 50 footer) and then it was off towards Nuneaton, which didn't look as bad as I had remembered, making a good three-and-a half miles an hour all the way except for a stretch just beyonl Marston Junction where I came up behind a very slow boat whose steerer never checked behind and who obviously had no idea I was there until someone on the bow looked back and saw me. Even then all she did was move over slightly and I was left to assume that she wanted me to pass. My cheery wave and "Thank You" was ignored, but perhaps she was just too embarrassed at not having noticed me or perhaps she couldn't actually steer and converse at the same time?
I had to slow down myself shortly afterwards when the setting sun was shining directly in my face and I suddenly realised that I couldn't actually see the front of the boat let alone have any idea whether there were any other boats, either oncoming or tied up, or even whether the canal went straight on or not!
Eventually, I tied up at Hartshill at 8.40pm just over 12 hours after leaving Braunston, 27 miles and 4 locks away. Sorry for the lack of photos to illustrate this post: I just didn't have time to take any!