Our little jetty turned out to be quite popular with the locals who probably weren't all that chuffed about a dirty great boat taking up half of their fishing platform, but we all got along reasonably well and we felt quite safe leaving Legend alone while we went off to Cambridge and Birmingham to earn a crust.
While we were near Peterborough we went into Go Outdoors for a new gas bottle and came home with a new coat each. It's the cheapest gas, but there are pitfalls. We must stay away from that place.
The shift we did in Birmingham New Street was a revelation; they've completely revamped the whole place with a huge shopping plaza over the top and extra stairs and escalators down to the platforms. The work was easy; we were just counting passengers getting on and off, it was when we'd finished that it all went wrong. We were working on different platforms and when we went to find each other one of us went up the stairs as the other went down the escalator, then we did it the other way round, and to cut a long story short we got separate trains back to where we'd parked the car and it took over an hour before we managed to get back together. It's pathetic how upset we both were by this; after all we're both mature grown ups and both perfectly capable of using public transport without holding hands, but the relief we felt when we were reunited was palpable. Soft or what?
As two of our shifts were mornings in Birmingham, we arranged to go and see Kim and George on one day and Laura and Alison on Large Marge on another. George was extra cute and chatting away in his own language, although Kim was a bit stiff after writing her car off in a scary crash. Lucky people, we've seen the photos and it could have been a lot worse.
The Margees were moored in the Black Country Living Museum, just outside the Dudley Tunnel portal. Sadly we could only stay for an hour or so, but we had a great time. Jaffa was obviously overjoyed to see Ann-Marie, however we're still waiting for him to acknowledge Dave's existence.
After a week we left the Boathouse, returned to the embankment for a visit to the services, then carried on to Ferry Meadows, where we had the whole place to ourselves.
Sadly it's only a 24hour doings so the next day we shuffled on to Alwarton lock for one night...
From Wansford station we had two more days working in Cambridge so we didn't really get to see anything of the area, but we did get to see a couple of steam trains going over the bridge by the mooring...
We got to Elton lock just as it started raining, and by the time we were through it was getting worse. If everyone plays the game there's enough room for about five boats just above the lock, but a narrowboat and a cruiser had managed to fill it all up on their own. We could have made a fuss and got them to move but there seemed little point in everyone getting wet so we pinned and planked on the jungly bit.
The next morning was sunny and there was rain on the forecast so we set off through Warmington, Perio and Cotterstock locks before mooring up in the mill channel just after Ashton.
EA were doing some work on the weirs and had dropped the water level so we had to be a bit careful, but we got through with no problem.
We should have set off fifteen minutes earlier, as the rain caught up with us just as we got there, but we got pinned to the bank before it really came down.
We were about to set off the next morning when the rain started again and forced us back inside for more tea. When we did get going it was a bit damp but it didn't start raining properly until we were within sight of Wadenhoe lock, then it chucked it down. It carried on chucking it down all the time we were working through the lock and all the time we were mooring up out side the King's Head and only stopped when we'd finished.
Anne came to stay the night at Wadenhoe before going to her office in Peterborough the next morning and was good enough to treat us to a meal in the pub. The food was just as good as when we went there with Jon and Jenny in spring. She also brought us some pretty Autumn bunting which was a perfect fit for Legend's dining room window.
Boating in the morning took us through Tichmarsh lock, where the Middle Nene Cruising Club were busy with their Autumn clean-up.
By ten o'clock we were moored up outside Islip sailing club and went up into the village for a jumble sale we'd seen a poster for. What we hadn't seen was that it was from 2 till 4 so we had to kick our heels for a few hours. We managed to hit the free wifi in the library and filled our iplayer then went back to the village hall and scooped a bag full of bargains. Part of our haul included some curtains made out of deck chair material which we're going to turn into cushions to go on top of the boxes, and into foam filled window pads which will fit in the window frames at night providing extra insulation and helping to cut down on condensation. We hope.
After two nights at the sailing club we moved all of half a mile to the pretty little mooring by the Nine Arches bridge in Thrapston. In the afternoon we drove to the National Trust property of Lyveden and had a very pleasant three hours walking around and exploring.
We both had dentist appointments the following afternoon. As our dentist is in Southam, we'd arranged to meet Kim and George in Leamington in the morning. We had a walk through the park kicking through the leaves and chasing pigeons, although George didn't seem all that bothered in either, then we had a go in the toddlers playground which was great fun until Ann-Marie got dizzy and Dave fell off the bouncy horse.
In the afternoon the dentist told Dave that he needed a crown and Ann-Marie that he couldn't find any reason why she'd had toothache for the last few months. Not exactly the result we were hoping for.
We needed to get to Irthlingborough the next day, so even though there was rain on the forecast we donned the waterproofs and set off. As it turned out it was quite a pleasant day even though it took us through four of the six manual guillotine locks. These are operated by a big wheel that you have to turn through what seems like a thousand revolutions to shut the gate, then another thousand to open it again once you're through. No matter how fit you are they must use muscles that nothing else uses, because they really make your arms ache.
In the afternoon we cycled back through Stanwick Lakes to Thrapston for the car, then in the evening..... well it was back to the future day so it would have been rude not to.