Rugby to Barby, 5.5 miles, 3 locks
Paul and I spent such a long time talking and playing Animal Crossing last night that I was very tardy in getting up this morning, even though the weather was lovely. I made breakfast and we continued chatting and catching up on the news and gossip. It was midday by the time we set off for Tesco and by the time we'd returned and had our lunch of home-made cheese salad sandwiches sandwiches (in Tesco Oven Bottom Muffins) it was after 2pm before we set off. I had wanted to get to Braunston Turn by the end of the day, but what with the Oxford canal being on the wiggly side and Hillmorton Locks, we stood no chance.
Hillmorton Locks were a revelation to me because they are pairs of single locks. One up and one down, if you will. I've only seen paired locks at Camden on the Grand Union (Hampstead Road locks) although they're full-width barge locks. Of course, it doesn't matter how many locks you have if they're full and there was a steady stream of traffic in both directions. Ahead of us was a hire boat with 10 fellas on it and although they weren't exactly skilled at doing the locks, with that many 'staff' you get efficiency just because everyone gets a job, so they roared ahead of us.
The rest of the afternoon was very pleasant with the sun making the going easy, but as the sun started to go down it started to get cold. In the end we stopped at Bridge 79, where the nearest habitation/pub would be Barby, but that was a good mile or two away and on the other side of the canal. We lit the fire and had some soup, then a bit later we had Old El Paso Crispy Chicken Fajitas. I hadn't had these before, but Paul has recently rediscovered chicken and is rather obsessed with it. You buy (or make) strips of chicken breast which you put into a (supplied) plastic bag along with a bit of oil and the 'crispy mix' (which seems largely to be spicy breadcrumbs). You toss the chicken in the bag until it's all fully coated, then bake it. The soft tortillas are wrapped in foil and popped in the oven with the chicken 10 minutes later, while you chop up some tomato and lettuce (and I grated some cheese for good measure). You serve with the (supplied) salsa and sour cream. I have to say that I really enjoyed them. They're dead easy to make and might even be healthier than tacos. I'd certainly have them again.