Sunday 2 August

A disturbed night’s sleep caused by too much to think about but we finally dropped off and didn’t wake until 9am. We haven’t slept in that late since the clocks went forward.

We had breakfast and waited a while to see if anyone was heading our way so we could share Stockton Locks but all was quiet so we set off anyway. We’d done about four locks when their was a shrill whistle behind me and a guy waving his arms. I alerted Storm that I thought there was someone following us up the locks and then a passing cyclist confirmed there was and that he’d like us to wait for him.

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Storm disappeared leaving me in the empty lock and eventually reappeared to say “Keith” was on his way. To save Storm opening the far gate I shimmied our boat sideways. I could hear Keith’s boat before I saw it. A bow announcing the arrival of “The Maverick Water Gypsy” arrived amidst a cloud of diesel smoke and a roof piled high with stuff, with a butty behind! A one eyed colourful character with a charming manner then stuck his head out from under his canopy introduced himself, shook my hand and then as he took a slurp of cider asked if I had bow thrusters. I said ‘no’ to which he said that my sideways shimmy was ‘impressive for a girl’. Storm called him a ‘smooth talking gentleman’ or words to that effect, and after much laughing we carried on up the locks together.

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Once clear of the locks, Keith led the way at tickover to Calcutt Locks, greeting everyone as though they were his best friend. It appears he is one of the waterway’s legends as everyone seems to know him. We stopped for water at the top of the locks and to buy a gas bottle and we waved Keith cheerio. He’s heading to Cropredy for the music festival and we’re heading towards Braunston.

We spent the afternoon planning our route for the next month. We’ve decided not to head to London this year afterall and stay close to railway stations that will take us home quickly if the need arises.

 

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