We took Albert to Braunston over the weekend.

Our friends from Queensland, John & Di Harden were over visiting the UK on their way to Kyrgistan; it's a long story! They have been on Albert twice before, but have not travelled far from Yardley, so this time we organised a one-way trip to Braunston.

Leaving on Friday, the weather was OK but cloudy. For the first time I decided to reverse Albert out of the marina to avoid the difficult turn north. We made Stoke Bruerne bottom lock just before two other boats (Ollie & Miss Mollie from the Taverners Boat Club at Cosgrove) who wanted to go up together so we waited until the next boat, Glamis Castle arrived. The trip up the flight was straight forward and the Hardens soon got used to operating locks again. We had a good lunch and drinks at The Boat. Over lunch working boat Ibex and butty Ilford arrived.

NBs Ibix and Ilford

They were going south. The last time we saw Ilford was Spring 2009 at Roger Fuller's yard at Stone.

We had a good trip through Blisworth Tunnel and moored up just beyond Heyford Field marina. We glimpsed a good view of a sunset through the hedge.

Sunset near Nether Heyford, Northants

The sunset just got better

On Saturday we went up to Weedon, and we visited the Bramble Patch, one of Maggie's favourite places where there was an exhibition of quilts inspired by New Zealand. John and I also visited the Weedon Royal Ordinance Depot. The depot was once connected to the Grand Junction main line by an arm and famously it was the place where government would be relocated if Napoleon had invaded Britain. A section of the canal remains in water between the impressive military buildings.

ROC Weedon gate house

We travelled up the Long Buckby flight with Octavia built by Barn Owl Boats, a very smart new boat, and moored up just below the New Inn where we met our friends Bob & Lyn Doyle from Moriarty who were moored up but on their way south.

Steerers chatting whilst descending the Buckby Flight

The weather was bright on Sunday and we had a great journey up to the tunnel in glorious sunshine with John and Di taking lots of pictures of the rolling English countryside.

Toll House, Norton Junction

Canal Bridge, Grand Union, Norton/Braunston

Being a good boating day in summer, there were lots of boats about. We passed seven in Braunston Tunnel and there was a queue at the Top Lock.

Braunston Tunnel southern portal in summer sunshine

Steve with John & Di Harden at Braunston Top Lock

We managed to persuade the crew behind, on their way to the Cropredy Festival to delay of passage down the flight until the first pound was clear. There were six boats in the very short pound. We made good progress down the locks but the bottom two pounds were very shallow. Some crews going up the flight were telling tales of paddles being left up. We moored up below the bottom lock and had a Sunday lunch at The Boathouse (formerly the Millhouse). We had good food at reasonable prices. Unlike the time we passed here in the spring, it was full.

Working boat Kestral (heavily laden) with its butty Vienna, Braunston

We will continue our cruise next week with another crew - more to come.