Thursday, 15 October 2015

Long and winding

The first complete day of this new year of my life opened cloudy and cold, and the first thing we encountered was a long, black, twisty tunnel. Hope this isn't all a sign of things to come!

Like a couple of tunnels we've met elsewhere, Braunston tunnel is slightly sinuous. You can see the other end before you enter but, slithering from side to side along its length you regularly lose sight of entrance or exit. Haven't quite worked out the geometry of it yet. We were travelling fairly slowly behind NB Little Egret, and discovered the reason for the pace when we had to pass a 70 foot Coal and Diesel boat half-way through, just where the sidewinding made it hardest. I'd have bought some fuel for the fire from him if we'd met anywhere else, but the middle of Braunston tunnel is probably not the best place for that sort of transaction.

We accompanied Ray, Peter and Rosie on NB Egret down the six locks at Braunston. Wide locks are certainly easier when you've company. Turned out all three are from Beverley in Yorkshire and are folk musicians. Nice to meet you, guys. Thanks for the help with the locks.

Braunston is one of those locations that everyone on the waterways knows about, but nobody else. It's where the Grand Union and the Oxford canals have a junction, and it's a major centre for canal activity, with loads of boats tied up as well. The junction is the only one I've come across where one canal divides neatly to enable boats going in either direction to get round the corner easily.

Mind you, when the boat coming out wants to wind and then back up to a mooring by the chandlers, everything comes to a halt anyway.

So we're on another new canal, coming up the North Oxford towards Rugby. It's open, slightly rolling countryside, with the M45 not too far ahead. It's very quiet, now the boat moored just behind us has turned its engine off and the dog from the boat in front has stopped yapping at me. I thought about varnishing a boat pole but, for the moment, I find a lazy afternoon slightly more appealing. So I tell myself sleepily that there's probably too much damp in the air for effective varnishing.


  1. Happy Birthday for ... er ... Wednesday?

    I remember being advised once to leave boat poles unvarnished and unpainted as that way they afford more grip. Thinking about it, I suppose one could treat all bar a foot or so at either end. Hmm. I might have just given myself yet another job!

    1. Wednesday it was! Thank you.

      I hadn't heard that about poles. Aren't they more susceptible to rot if left untreated? Or perhaps they need preservative rather than varnish.