Stoke Bruerne is a famous canalside village. It has a great pub called the Boat Inn, the canal museum, the entrance to Blisworth Tunnel nearby and best of all, when the hire boaters are out and about, it has great entertainment value. It’s a great place for gongoozling.
From the towoath at I watched a man trying unsuccessfully to moor his narrowboat. He came in at every angle except the right one, bumped into the boat in front, revved and reversed back and forth for ages. His wife was shouting out very sensible advice like “just throw me the rope” – which of course he completely ignored.
I smiled but couldn’t help casting my mind back a year and a half. I’d only had Bristol Fashion a couple of days and could hardly steer her in a straight line. It didn’t help that I’d learnt to pilot a boat using a tiller, but my new boat had a steering wheel. It also didn’t help that there was a big stick stuck in the weed hatch, making it veer off course.
When I reached Stoke Bruerne to tackle my first lock by myself, I jumped out the boat but left the boat in forward gear. She headed off without me and crashed into the lock gate. There were a lot of people stood watching and I felt somewhat foolish.
Maybe that’s what draws all the tourists to Stoke Bruerne. It’s not to wander around the picture postcard canal village; it’s to gongoozle at the first-time boaters making complete arses of themselves.