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Yet another lazy weekend!

Regular readers will have realised that we are dividing our time almost equally between living in our house and on board Caxton. We stopped off at the marina on Thursday morning before continuing our journey by road to Pinewood studios to watch the recording of an episode of “Through the Keyhole” which will be broadcast next month. We arrived back at Braunston around 9.30pm, settled in and went to bed.
Friday dawned and I got up and went to work, well one of us has to! Sue, meanwhile pottered around and did some shopping in the village. On her way back she spotted nb Yarwood being tied up just outside the marina by Joe and Lesley who of course were the original designers and owners of Caxton. We had briefly made their acquaintance on the weekend of the Braunston Historic Boat Rally so Sue said hello and was invited in and enjoyed a glass of wine with her hosts. I of course was oblivious to all of this as I toiled away at work trying to keep the country going. Eventually I finished what I had to do and returned to Braunston where Sue was waiting, sunning herself in the cratch with a glass of wine. Our plan had been to take Caxton out but we popped back to Yarwood and spent a few hours with Joe and Lesley instead. The conversation flowed well and we covered many subjects from Scottish independence to life afloat. We got a great insight into the economics of being a liveaboard from our new friends, reinforcing our belief that our plans for the future are the right ones. Joe gave me the stem to stern tour of Yarwood and I have to say that it really is a superb vessel, completely different to Caxton in most ways but with some of the same characteristics evident. Eventually we had to say goodbye but not before we made some tentative arrangements to meet up next week and go out for a meal with the pair. The time had flown by so when we returned to Caxton it was after seven o’clock and a bit too late to venture out. We had dinner in the cratch, lit by the late evening sunshine.
When we awoke on Saturday it was already very warm inside Caxton, a bit too warm and a quick glance outside revealed why. The sun was beating down from a clear blue sky so we got up and got dressed and by nine o’clock we were pulling out of the marina and on to the Grand Union. We had a brief conversation as we left with Paul, the marina manager, mainly about the lemon drizzle cake that Sue had made for the office staff last week.
This was the sort of day that we all love boating and as a result there were a lot of us about. We made our way on to the Oxford and headed towards Rugby and eventually reached the locks at Hillmorton. The descent was easy with enough boats moving in each direction between the locks to reduce the work for everyone. Once clear of the bottom lock, we passed the long term moorings and the water points before finding our mooring at the end of the armco piling. We toyed with the idea of walking into Hillmorton but it was so hot that we decided to sit in the cratch where there was a bit of shade instead. The afternoon slipped by and slowly gave way to an early evening which in turn made the transition to a sunset which at last brought a coolness to the air. So that was it, we had managed to while away yet another day doing bugger all!
Before bedtime, I switched on my iPad and tapped on the Newsify app. This is a news aggregator which picks up a series of RSS feeds of the users choice. I have a number of boating blogs that I follow and I find that this is the easiest way to keep up with my “correspondents” as I like to think of them. I read that Steve and Chris on board nb AmyJo had begun their big cruise which would move their boat from Crick to Tattenhall. They had reached Braunston where, like us 24 hours earlier, they had found Yarwood and spent some time with Joe and Lesley.
After a good night’s sleep we awoke to see that the weather had changed again and we faced a dull and damp morning. It was dry so we got ready and set off again hoping to turn just beyond Clifton wharf which is marked in the Nicholsons guide as a full length turning point. It isn’t as we found out when we tried to wind Caxton there half an hour after we had untied, perhaps there were no boats moored in the old arm when the guide was written. We motored on until we reached Rugby wharf, yet another disused loop from the original canal but one in which we were able to turn Caxton around. I thought that it might be worth trying to buy some diesel so once turned, we headed into the arm itself. This was our first time down there and we were surprised at how far it was before we reached the end. Sue got off and went to find some signs of life, she returned with the news that there is no-one around to sell diesel on Sundays. Unfortunately the heavens had opened and with me in the process of turning Caxton in the winding hole, we both ended up getting wet. As soon as Sue was back on board, the rain stopped of course but with it being warm, we both dried out soon enough. We re-emerged onto the cut and turned again in the winding hole, our third turnaround in fifteen minutes! We began our journey back to Braunston by picking our way through the bridges and moorings between Brownsover and Clifton. The sky remained cloudy until we reached the bottom lock at Hillmorton and as soon as we pulled up on the lock landing, there was a sharp shower so we donned our raincoats and started our ascent. Since Sue had her operation, she isn’t allowed to work the locks so I took my windlass and got to work. Sue recognised the lock keeper who we had met at Foxton last year and who was moored in Market Harborough basin, he has now been promoted and is based at Braunston where he is in charge of 126 volunteer lock keepers as well as the locks between Hillmorton and Buckby.
Fortunately there were more boats coming down the flight than going up so our progress was fairly good. When I walked up to the top lock there was a restored working boat already in the chamber with the crew just about to open the bottom paddles. It took some time to drain the lock, the boat left and Sue began her approach. In the meantime a boat had arrived on the top lock landing and I recognised its distinctive colours, it was nb AmyJo and striding towards me was Chris with windlass in hand. Of course we’ve never met before and I had the advantage of seeing their boat before she saw ours but I went to her and said hello. Steve brought AmyJo into one lock as Sue brought Caxton into the other and we all had a bit of a disjointed conversation as we worked the two locks together. The photos of AmyJo look great but in real life, even under a dull sky, it looks amazing – a fantastic paint job. Sadly we didn’t get to spend any more time with Steve and Chris but we will continue to follow their exploits through their blog posts.
After Hillmorton we plodded along without incident, the sky gradually clearing as we made our way back to Braunston. Six hours after we had untied, we were tying up on our pontoon in the marina, a weekend that had seen us make new friends who share the same interests as us and who write about their adventures on blogs like this. We bumped into our favourite lock keeper and we explored an extra bit of the Oxford canal in the form of the Rugby Wharf arm.