So, just a few days later, we started along the Northampton Arm, where we had arranged to meet David and Mary (and Whisk!), courtesy of Mary's brother Ollie giving them a lift to our rendezvous. Soon the old team were working smoothly together again and we made our way quite swiftly down the 13 locks of the Rothersthorpe flight. David and Mary had specially offered to come and help us down this long flight (plus the remaining 4 locks down to join the Nene in Northampton) and we really appreciated it, especially Val, as it meant that she didn't need to be standing at the tiller all the time, putting too much strain on her knees. Thanks, folks, we love having you around - and not just to work through those locks!
After stopping for lunch just on the outskirts of Northampton, we pressed on, leaving the canal and joining the River Nene near the town centre, where we saw our first ducklings of the year, then out the other side into open countryside again, to a pleasant mooring at Cogenhoe (pronounced 'Cook-no') which we remembered from our first trip this way back in 2007.
After a quiet night, we set off again and welcomed Ollie on board, as he was able to join us for a day on the river - a new experience for him, apparently! Laddie, Ollie's rough collie, was not keen on getting on or off the boat, but seemed quite content lying on the back deck while we all managed to avoid treading on him. Meanwhile, Ollie got well and truly 'stuck in', working the locks and taking a turn at the tiller.
And on we went . . . familiar territory for Val and me, a new look at familiar places for Ollie, and 'new ground' for David and Mary.
Looking at the map, we reckoned that we should be able to stop and moor at Denford, where the book said that there was a pub that served meals - just what we needed! Arriving there a little late in the afternoon, we found that the moorings were non-existent, it was quite difficult to get to the village, and the pub had just closed two weeks earlier! Plan B was soon hatched and put into operation. Bonnie (Ollie's other half) would come and collect Val, while the rest of us would be able to walk over the fields to 'the Woolpack' at nearby Thrapston, courtesy of a local couple showing us the way. It worked: we didn't get lost, enjoyed a really good meal there and got back to the boat OK.
In the morning, we did much the same, but this time by boat! We worked through Denford Lock and chugged the mile or so down to Thrapston Nine Arches moorings, where another boat was most conveniently just leaving, so we were able to slot in nicely. David & Mary disembarked and Ollie came to take them back to his house (and their car), ready for a long drive back down to Devon!