An eventful day on the water.
Soon after starting off this morning we turned a corner to find ourselves confronted with what we nautical narrow-boat types call a complete stuff-up.
Someone had turned a corner and managed to end up with their boat perpendicular to the bank, completely blocking the canal. We quickly took evasive action and moved ourselves over to the far right of the canal.The other boat eventually sorted itself out and moved off and we then tried to get ourselves back under way, only to find that we had run aground. A busy day on the canal meant the water level had lowered and as they say in the North of England ‘t bottom came up too near to t’ top. After much tooing and froing and Jennifer hanging off the side of the boat to change the weight distribution, we got underway again.
We reached the town of Braunston for lunch. The English may not have boulangeries but they do do pubs very well. We had a great lunch while the boys played a traditional game of cheese and skittles with an American boy. The game involves setting up skittles on a table and throwing a round of cheese at it. At one time it would have been real cheese; now it is a plastic cheese. We bought groceries in the local supermarket and meat in the butchers shop. Then we were off again.
We turned right off the Oxford Canal onto the Grand Union Canal. In fact the Grand Union is far from grand so far, maintenance appears poor and there are a lot of abandoned boats on the side. We also passed a tricky spot where we had to wend between two sunken narrow-boats. All good though, we moored for the night on a pleasant stretch near another boat which turned out to be owned by a lovely couple who have been living on the canals since last October. They explained the state of the canal upkeep as being the fault of them all being run by one large central bureaucracy instead of local councils like in France. They were a fount of useful advice and even photocopied a map for us.
So now we’re sitting on a quiet stretch of canal surrounded by huge fields of grass and a farm in the distance. There are ducks and ducklings just outside our boat and we’re on the lookout for a barn owl that’s supposed to patrol the area at dusk.