Crick to Gilbert's Bridge, 11 miles, 0 locks
Today started off well. The sun was shining and I was up bright and early, and underway by 9am. My reading glasses and map book cover work a treat, and the canal ahead was clear of locks for ages and I was expecting to see some lovely countryside. This part of the Leicester Branch is 412ft above sea level and has great views over the Avon valley, and without villages to distract you there's time to admire the trees and look at the colours--sprays of red Hawthorne berries, pockets of bright green acorns and the paler green of the Sycamore seeds. After a while there's a decision to be made over whether to continue straight to Foxton or perhaps to take advantage of a little 1.25 mile detour down the Welford arm to have lunch there. I chose the latter and after winding and meandering for a most of a mile, disaster struck and smoke started pouring out of the engine compartment as the engine overheated. Looking around, I was fortunate to find an excellent place to moor--a straight stretch of bank just after Bridge 2. I quickly pulled over and stopped the engine, just as it started raining heavily and there was the sound of thunder.
The engine overheated once before, years ago, and that time it was due to the stress being put on the engine thanks to the navigation being extremely shallow. There was also a possibility of it overheating during the test trip up the Slough arm, as we discovered when High Line Yachting fixed an out-of-alignment belt on the auxiliary water pump and discovered that the pump had a minor leak. I thought that that leak had been fixed and I wouldn't have any more trouble with it, so today's problem might be something new. I guess I won't find out until the engine cools and I have a look in the header tank. In the meantime, I decided I'd better get it looked at in case it's something serious, so once the thunderstorm passed and the sun came out again, as though nothing had happened, I wandered into Welford to talk to the boatyard there. They don't do enough engine stuff to require a full-time member of staff and sub-contract the work out, but their chap could have a look on Thursday morning. That was fine with me, because it would give the engine a chance to cool down and all day tomorrow to figure out how to get Oothoon to Welford (just in case it isn't as simple as putting more water in and crossing my fingers).
Although I should be feeling fairly down at the moment, I'm surprised to find that I'm not. I'm actually rather grateful that it's happened today and not two days ago, when Paul was here. Can you imagine what it would have been like if we'd broken down in Crick tunnel?! Now that I think about it, if I hadn't come down the Welford arm, it would have happened in Husband's Bosworth tunnel! I find that I can cope with setbacks as long as that's all I need to worry about, by which I mean it's only me that's affected. I don't really mind if I'm inconvenienced, but I'd feel awful if someone else was stuck in the middle of it too.
Had a quiet night at home, catching up with my Russell Brand podcasts. I'm not entirely sure why I like Russell, but to hear him and Matt Morgan bickering seems somehow comforting, and I love how Noel Gallagher drops in like a friendly old granddad.