After leaving Stoke Bruerne on Thursday we made our back along the Grand Union canal towards Braunston. It was whilst we were travelling that we heard the sad news of the death of Doreen Kemp after a long illness. Doreen and John were the reason why we took up boating in the first place spending time learning the ropes aboard their Springer Finham III that was based at Streethay.
We got to the Buckby flight of locks and teamed up with the crew of four feisty women aboard "Grumbleweed". All was going well in the heat of the day until we reached the 3rd lock from the top when our engine cut out. No obvious reason so they towed us out of the lock so that we could moor up in the pound. Fortunately our insurance gave us cover with River & Canal rescue so on the phone we got. Yes they would send an engineer out and would we like them to inform anyone of our plight and would we like any provisions brought to us! We were dumbfounded by their considerate offer. After a couple of hours an engineer duly turned up and diagnosed that a 40amp fuse had blown. He fitted a new one and gave us a spare and all seemed well to we tootled off to the Lock pub for a meal to celebrate.
Next morning Keith carried on with touching up some rust that had formed on the roof handrail with a final coat. Well, the whole canal must have heard his shriek when he accidentally knocked over a one litre can of red paint all over the cream roof! It took most of a kitchen roll, many rags and oodles of white spirit to get most of it off leaving just the faintest bloom of pink behind.
So it was onward towards the long Brauston tunnel praying that the engine woul not cut out again. Imagine being powerless inside an 830 yard long tunnel!
Just two locks to go before Braunston and the engine cut out again. It just so happened that Grumbleweed were approaching us astern and helped us bowhaul the boat through the lock and into the next pound. Although Keith was able to fit the spare fuse there must be an underlying reason for it to blow again. Another phone call to RCR with the same consideration given to us again, saw a different engineer attend. After a brief period he diagnosed the problem. The throttle/gear cable on the rear of the lever was extremely close to the thin electrical wires that feed the oil pressure gauge on the panel. The action of the lever over 5 years had caused the edge of the throttle/gear cable ferrel to wear away the insulation on one of the wires and cause a short. The engineer wound some insulating tape around the wires and when the engineer had gone Keith took some more preventive measures to stop it happening again. Meanwhile Dianne visited the local chandlery and bought a supply of 40 amp fuses; just in case. So yet another celebratory meal up at the Old Plough Inn.
Sunday saw us dine aboard, at last, right out in the sticks. It was whilst we were enjoying strawberries and ice cream that we observed what looked to be an 18" long snake swim head up towards us and disappeared into the bank. Anybody got any ideas what it was??
Monday we arrived at Hawkesbury Junction, or Sutton Stop, where the North Oxford meets the Coventry canal. We moored in the same spot as last year where a tethered pony took a fancy to the paintwork on the roof handrail and bit it back to the metal. No animals this year so we were safe.
The alternative name, Sutton Stop, arises from the name of a family which provided several lock keepers there in the nineteenth century. The junction between the canals was the source of great controversy. The Oxford Canal's Act of Parliament contained clauses which stipulated that both companies had the right to the tolls on the other's canal for certain traffic which passed between them. Thus the tolls for all coal traffic on the first 2 miles (3.2 km) of the Oxford Canal were to go to the Coventry company, while tolls which the Coventry Canal collected for the first 3.5 miles (5.6 km) of travel by all goods except coal which had passed through the junction were to be given to the Oxford company. The junction was originally to be located at Gosford Green, but Brindley changed his mind while the bill was in Parliament, and tried to get the junction moved to Bedworth. This would have deprived the Coventry Canal of tolls on all coal traffic using the Oxford Canal, and so a compromise was reached. Longford was chosen as the site for the junction, and the compensation clauses were added to ensure that the Coventry Canal received much the same revenue as it would have done, had the junction been at Gosford. It was a complicated solution, and required both canals to run parallel to one another for some distance.
The iconic cast iron bridge
The famous Greyhound pub
The two together
We decided that we both would like to attend Doreen's funeral next Monday and so we have arranged for our boat to be left securely for a few days in a marina at Great Haywood and we will pick up a hire care in Stafford on Saturday in order to drive back to Bristol. This will now mean longer days in order to achieve this.