The morning is beautiful: cool and fresh and a deep blue sky. We cross the Avon and I wonder again at the majesty of England's rivers. they are not particularly big, but they make up for it with a mixture of lush, verdant beauty and our rich heritage.
Almost immediately we also pass over the railway, and at that instant, a train comes into sight below the aqueduct. I wave and the driver hoots back; T beams from ear to ear.
We pass alpacas in a small field and then attractive apartments and on into a wooded cutting, where a rather disturbed chap shouts wildly at himself, cursing and swearing. We don't seem to care much about looking after those with mental challenges any more: one of the great tragedies of our age - we are happy to pay a few quid to have problems swept under the carpet and out of sight.
T and I are off to the football, so leave the boat with the crew. Within hours, the gearbox connection fails requiring an engineer in the bilges to manually change gear. More frighteningly, just an hour later, the engine stop cable fails as North Star enters a lock and comes to a halt with an almighty crunch. It may technically be enough to move us down into the next licence bracket lower. It is fortuitous that we are on our way to Calcutt Boats, who are the specialists in this engine. Thank Goodness we are not on the Trent or the Severn....or even the Avon, for that matter.
The crew struggle on to Long Itchington where the somewhat deflated football-goers return. It's a sombre night as we realise how much extra work will be required tomorrow to get up the Stockton flight.
7.9 miles, 10 locks
Stunning Thames steamer Alaska -
5 days ago