We meet handraulic guillotines

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Another early start this morning, not straight onto the river, but via a postbox to send an urgent birthday card. We walked past the ghost of Rushton and Diamonds, with sad weeds around the turnstiles.

We had a shock at the first lock. We were used to electrically operated guillotine bottom gates. This lock had a LARGE wheel for manual turning – a great deal of it. I elected to operate the wheel. I am still quite nervous of driving the boat. Helming suddenly seemed more attractive. I am now developing my helming skills fast!

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This is the electric version. The handraulic model involves 150 turns to lower it, and then another 150 to raise it. We have met 4 of these today out of 12 locks.

I lost another lock windlass (the lock winding handle) so am in disgrace. We went into Oundle Marina to get diesel and two new handles, and another Nene guide to replace the one Dugald threw into the lock. An expensive replacement programme.

The entrance to Oundle Marina is like Jerusalem’s Eye of the Needle, and Dugald made it look easy – very irritating

This river remains a glorious experience, it is crystal clear, alive with fishes and birds. We have seen red kites; yellow wagtails; a kingfisher; swallows swooping around old mills; and thousands of dragonflies.

Tonight we are made up to the bank near some cattle. It feels like Bearley Farm, and that’s not bad.

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