We went to the Braunston Historic Boat Festival last year, for the first time. This year we'd got the offer of a ride on Owl in the parade.
We stopped off at the boat to make a measurement, as Alan was hoping to buy something at the chandlery in Braunston, while I quickly watered the plants that we put in to the small patch of garden at the end of our mooring last weekend. Then we set off for the festival.
We've discovered that Charlie the dog has a bit of a tendency to be car-sick, so we wanted to avoid any very winding roads on the way to keep him as comfortable as possible. Unfortunately, Mavis (our aging Sat Nav) had different ideas, and we found ourselves taking a very roundabout route down the most narrow and twisting lanes in the whole of Northamptonshire. Not surprisingly, despite not having been given his breakfast in the morning, Charlie had been sick by the time we arrived - fortunately not much, and fortunately onto the old towels we had laid out in the back of the car. Dogs don't seem to be much fazed by this and he happily wolfed down his breakfast that we had taken with us.
We parked in the village and walked down to the canal in the blazing sunshine. We quickly found Jim and Sue on Owl, and arranged to meet up with them later, then set off to explore.
Punters in the parade - they are punting the 200 miles from Cambridge to Oxford to raise money for the charity "Help for Heroes"
The main problem that we found was that we kept meeting people that we know, and then spent far too long chatting to them. We met up with lots of people that we know through the Internet (mostly Canal World Forum), several have had quite serious injuries or needed major surgery this year, so it was good to see how well all of them looked. We saw Chris and Daphne having a ride on Tycho, the ice breaker. We managed to put some faces to names that we know, even if we didn't always get the chance to introduce ourselves properly.
Looking down from the bridge into the arm.
We were delighted to see Chertsey, still in primer, and with work yet to be done, but only a dream at the festival last year.
Eventually we tore ourselves away and made it back to Owl by 2:00 pm, when the parade for the boats in that section was due to start. This was great fun, and we were joined by Chris and Daphne who had left the group on Tycho by then.
Passing the moored boats in Owl.
The parade is slow, there are many boats moored, and there is only a narrow channel to get down.
Boats pass the Marina and the arm, and the Stop House, then carry on to the junction, where they pass under one bridge, and reverse under the other, before heading back towards the marina. They head through the marina, then go back to their mooring on the main canal.
Looking under the bridge as we passed it into the arm and the marina entrance.
Passing the Stop House. Angel had been drawn by horse, and legged through Braunston Tunnel, so that the tunnel had had to be closed to other traffic for some hours. Angel was once owned by Alan's late brother, Peter.
Making the turn at the junction, boats reversing under the other bridge can be seen.
Boats reversing back to go back towards the Marina.
Row of Stewart and Lloyds tugs outside the marina - and Ariel with a kit car on the deck.
Back at the mooring we found ourselves the outer boat of four moored up, not the inner boat - a fact that caused a few problems later on. We sat and chatted, other people came and went, and it was a very pleasant afternoon in the sun.
View from Owl at the mooring - a lot of boats.
Alan decided that he needed to go and walk about a bit. When I woke up to the fact that he had been gone for ages I had to get Charlie over three other boats to the towpath. To make matters far more interesting he has today realised that the strange stuff around the boats is WATER! And he has now discovered that he doesn't like getting wet (a bit daft for a spaniel, but he has had a few baths since he came to live with us). As dogs can't really walk along the narrow gunwales of working boats he had to go across the back counters - and each one was a major trial. He peered into the water, looked at the gap between the boats, and then refused to go. I was carrying some bags so ended up lifting Charlie, throwing him vaguely in the direction of the next boat, and then jumping over to repeat the process at the next boat.
Alan wasn't far away, he was looking at the boat Chertsey. Sarah was showing him around, they were peering into the engine room. I have to admit that I admire enormously what Sarah and Jim have done in such a short space of time.
The tugs from the marina bridge - I haven't yet found out how they got the kit car off.
We made our goodbyes, went back to Owl for Alan to say goodbye, and headed back up the hill in the evening sunshine. A great day, and special thanks to Jim and Sue on Owl for being our hosts for the day, and the offer of a ride in the parade.