Friday 17th July

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Up and off at 7.20, with persistent drizzle putting rather a damper on things. My turn to steer, so we'll soon see whether re-proofing my coat was worth the walk into Bletchley. Steady progress through locks, and then a cry goes up from the bow section -- Maddie has snaffled the remains of breakfast left on the table while everyone else working the lock. (I was lucky. Since I was steering, mine was still being kept warm under the grill, and so escaped.)

Rain continued -- varying between light and heavy drizzle. The most difficult parts were when the wind was in my face, driving the rain into my eyes. It cleared up a bit later, allowing opening of the front of the jacket to let the wind dry it out.

Still having trouble with the keys to unlock the guillotine gear. Lots of weed -- we had to clear the propellor a couple of times. Moored at Cogenhoe lock at 1.20, and off to the Royal Oak for lunch. Excellent 'Grandma Batty's Filled Yorkshire Puddings'. Almost left without paying. They hadn't taken cash with order, and we forgot we hadn't paid already.

Moving again by 3.10. A complete change in the weather. Large expanses of clear blue sky. I wonder how long it will last? Still very windy; we had to batten down the hatches.

Returning past Billing Aquadrome Park, we saw that the Land Rover Rally was still going on. Through Clifford Hill Lock, watched by a sizeable crowd of small children and dogs, asking questions and offering helpful advice -- the children, that is, not the dogs. A welcome return to motorised guillotines. We moored in Northampton at 6pm, on a wharf a little way above the Town Lock.

A return visit to the Malt Shovel, followed by a walk around Northampton to see what's available in terms of restaraunts. We ended up at the far end of town, at a place called Luigi's. Quite authentic Italian -- including the patron (paradoxically named Alfredo) who did a fine line in chatting up Penny (who was the member of the group principally involved in catching his eye to give our order). Food very good, and excellent value. Introduced Penny to Averna, while Nick, Alan and I had grappa (I suspect less popular than the Averna).

Before doing the bill, Alfredo asked us where we'd come from, and we chatted for a bit. He then told us that the furthest anyone had come especially to eat at Luigi's was a businessman from Manchester. He had been looking around for somewhere to eat while on one of his business journeys, and happened to find Luigi's. Subsequently his wife, irritated at how often he was disparaging other places and saying they weren't as good as this place in Northampton, insisted on coming down with him to see if it was really that good.

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