|The waterlogged towpath at Braunston|
We set off on Thursday from our back of beyond mooring and stopped at Bugbrooke for lunch and - I hoped - a foray to the village shop for this rural stretch of the Grand Union is bereft of anything resembling a town.
Bugbrooke is quite a sizeable village of pretty honey coloured stone cottages but the village shop is more dead than alive and we came out with our shopping list largely unticked.
Soon it was raining and our lunch stop became an all-day stop. With provisions running low what better excuse then than to nip across the canal for dinner at The Wharf - a modern-ish pub (or 'bar-restaurant' as it calls itself).
It's a big boozer but cosier than you'd expect inside. The menu wasn't overly encouraging though with a worryingly pretentious sprinkling of 'jus' and 'bed of' as well as some courses that sounded decidedly the weird side of innovative - like a steak and ale pie with the ingredients in tortilla wraps rather than good old pastry.
And when the main courses arrived on square plates – gawd how our hearts sank! Especially with Vicky's rib of beef and mash served in a Lego tower of ingredients and my pork belly sitting amid stripes of yellow and red.
BUT, but they actually tasted bloody good. We swallowed the food and with it our preconceptions. It was damned decent fare.
Unlike last night's meal at The Plough in Braunston which, sadly, was desperate. A sorry, dried up looking piece of lasagne and a burger - big and wholesome but desperately overcooked. The chips were chunky and good though. And the beer was fine. After the rugby watching crowd left we found ourselves alone in the bar until an hour or more later the place started to come to life again. But this is a village pub which is clearly struggling. Sad to see.
In between the two dinners we went up the seven Buckby locks - still as heavy and awkwardly spaced for the lockwheeler (me!) then through the Braunston Tunnel, completely dry inside in contrast to Blisworth, and down the six Braunston locks. The towpath most of the way varying from simply muddy to utterly waterlogged and flooded. Brian the dog point blank refused to walk on it a couple of times. I think he fears for his undercarriage in the mud and water.
Tomorrow, weather permitting, it's a gentle jaunt up to Rugby.