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First trip from Braunston marina

Since we moved Phoenix III to Braunston we have enjoyed a few weekends on board, living in the marina, walking around the countryside and indulging ourselves in the village pubs. Friday afternoon saw us travel to Braunston once again after a three week break from the boat. We had no real plans at all for the weekend so we settled in for the evening after lighting the fire and having dinner. A bottle of wine and a bit of telly in front of a roaring fire at the end of the week is rather soporific and so we turned in for the night still none the wiser as to what we would do the following day.

Technology is a wonderful thing so before we got out of bed on Saturday morning we checked the news using Sue’s iPad. A huge earthquake followed by a tsunami had struck Japan the day before and we wanted to find out the latest news. The situation had deteriorated overnight with an explosion at a nuclear power station so after a brief discussion about it all, we got up and got dressed. A bit of sunshine poked through the clouds and we made our minds up to have breakfast and then get out on the cut. Just after half past ten we had started the engine and untied the strings before edging out of Braunston marina, under the iron bridge and on to the Grand Union, heading towards the junction. Moored boats dictated that we travelled at tickover speed but that didn’t matter, we were in no hurry to make our journey in the direction of Napton. we expect that we will travel this stretch many times in future in the same way that we used to travel the Ashby canal when we were moored in Hinckley. We met a good number of boats on our journey but we made steady progress in a westerly direction. It was windy and the sun played hide and seek with us for most of the way but we enjoyed the two and half hour trip to the winding hole just below the bottom lock at Napton. After we turned around we made our way back to the Bridge Inn at bridge 111 where we tied up on the visitor moorings.

We sat and studied the map before locking the boat up and beginning what would turn out to be a tour of all of the public houses in and around the village of Napton on the hill. First up was the Bridge Inn just a few minutes away from the boat. It would have been easy to while away the afternoon in front of the open fire in the lounge but at this time of the year The Bridge closes at three o’clock so after one drink we headed up the road and soon found the next watering hole, the King’s Head. Another open fire to seduce us but again after one drink we stomped on and up the steep hill to the village centre. After about ten minutes we had reached the summit and were starting to descend again when we saw that the footpath led straight to the third pub of the day, the Crown Inn. Another pitstop there before we headed ever downwards to the village store and then back to the canal bank and oh my goodness! Yes, another pub in the form of the Folly Pie Pub. It seemed rude to ignore it having visited every other hostelry in the parish so we went in and had another drink. We left soon after and walked the mile along the towpath back to Phoenix III. It was six o’clock when we got back. We had been out for four hours, walked three miles and visited four pubs. One less pub and a blonde wig would have given this story a great title, “Goldilocks and the three pubs” but you can’t have everything!

We awoke at six thanks to the noise of ducks jumping all over the roof and deck of the boat. We dropped back to sleep and woke again a couple of hours later to hear light rain falling on the steel roof. By the time we had got up and had breakfast, the rain had passed and we set off just before midday. We made the trip back to Braunston in just under two hours, stopping for water along the way. We turned the boat around just outside the marina entrance before reversing in to our berth. This is a fairly complex manoeuvre at the best of times but today there were plenty of spectators on the bridge and bank. We made our entrance perfectly and turning to our audience of gongoozlers, saw that they had lost interest, presumably when they realised that there was going to be no cock-up to observe. By the time we had tied the boat to the bank the sun had come out as the clouds quickly disappeared so we had a glass of wine on the back deck to celebrate our maiden voyage from our new home in Braunston marina. We spent an hour or so carrying out a few chores and odd jobs before taking a walk up past the lower locks of the Braunston flight. We noted that the Admiral Nelson has re-opened so we will check it out next time we are in the area. We watched a wide beam boat negotiate the bottom lock before returning to the marina. The sun was still shining as we gathered our belongings and prepared to return home.