Braunston you bastard (Long Buckby to Napton-on-the-hill) - In the name of Thiago - Day 276
Okay, so Fiona and I didn't have a perfect start after her trains decided to play silly buggers coming out of Manchester, which resulted in me leaving Crewe an hour later than intended but I was really relaxed about that as we still had plenty of time to reach Napton in reasonable light.
Look at that lovely relaxed face. At this stage all I'd done was trundle down from the railway station. I could make out the point where Fiona and I would join the canal and while it wasn't all that warm, it was much better than had been forecast. And with a stiff breeze doing it's work, I felt confident that it would be one of the better days I'd had.
We continued on our merry way taking in the views including this intriguing looking place just as we came up towards a fork in the canal. I saw the sign for Braunston and started to feel a lot happier with life even if there were a couple of slightly darker looking clouds starting to appear above. It didn't matter, we were making excellent progress.
Along we went perfectly happily for probably half an hour before we saw a sign that didn't add up Watford something or other, (not Watford itself I hadn't gone that badly wrong). Hang on a feckin' minute - we're not supposed to be heading anywhere near this place, I very quickly realised.
There had indeed been a sign for Braunston, which I followed unquestioningly but for some unfathomable reason, the sign had been placed after the point where the canal forked off for this metropolis of the canalboating world. The irony was not lost on me of how I'd been seeing signs for this poxy place pretty much ever since I left Brentford and now at the final hurdle something goes wrong. And then the fucking clouds opened with a real vengeance.
All of a sudden this was turning to shit. Drowned right through, legs dragged through stinging nettles feeling cold and miserable and being regaled by a rather odd chap, who was fishing, with the tale of a goalkeeper who used to play for Brentford and then latterly lived down a sewer, Fiona and I did manage to get to Braunston and then started to make pretty reasonable progress to Napton.
But I felt desolate. Finally at 7pm we slumped on to a table at the King's Head in Napton and had a restorative pint. We paid, left in a cab and made our way to our overnight accommodation. Only when we arrived, the bloody place was closed. Fiona had kindly booked this quite a while back and the bill for the stay had been debited from her account a week ago, at which point you'd really love to think that someone would have let her know if the sodding place wouldn't be open. She really isn't happy with booking.com right now. But my word she did strike gold and save the day.
Back we went to the King's Head, had some food while planning the next move. I'm now at this really quite lovely farmhouse in the little village of Wormleighton trying to figure out how to make my feet function and hoping to God that tomorrow will bring better fortune and drier weather. It really better had.
There's no doubt about it, it has been a ropey old day but this little man is still driving his Daddy forward every step of the day. I raised a glass to him tonight as indeed, I do every night. I shed a few tears because I miss him more than ever and I would do anything to have another night with him cuddling him tight. It's so terribly unfair and it hurts so much.
But there is something I can do, and that's to continue to fundraise as best I can for the two wonderful NHS hospitals that did so much to look after my little hero. If you can help with that, you'll be doing us both proud.