Monday 22nd May
I was due to change the oil and filter today and was up early, but by the time I had a light breakfast, written various email in reply to friends and read up on associated blogs that I read mostly daily, it was 11 am. What did I say about this being a time waster? Probably better to get going early and do this later, rather than in the morning.
Anyway, because I had an oil spill over the engine, the job took two hours, which is about an hour longer than usual. I let go after a snack lunch and got to Black Horse Bridge, but still in Milton Keynes. I realised how much I hate this pound, without any locks or other features. On the way I thought I would write up some notes on The Plough at Simpson, but after mooring up and walking down to the pub, it was closed! Maybe it stays closed on Mondays. No wonder there were so few boats moored up outside. I just Googled it and it states
"Closed on Monday."
Herons in trees is quite a rare sight.
This must have been one of the hottest days of the year so far. I was down to T shirt and black jeans and they were too hot – no complaints though.
Moving on, I eventually moored up outside a pub close to Black Horse Bridge that I had never been to before. There were very convenient bollards outside, inviting custom. Although the Nicholson Guide quoted that this was The Proud Perch, it has reverted to The Black Horse; it remains to be seen what it is like.
While I was moored up, two guys were shafting a small cabin cruiser through the nearby bridge and pulled in in front of me. It turned out that they had just bought the boat, but had run out of petrol, so one of them told me. Someone was bringing fuel for them by car, but in the meantime they still tried to start the outboard, which did start and then immediately died. Start it did eventually and kept running whilst the petrol messenger walked alongside to catch them up.
Two other guys were fishing with magnets later under the bridge and I later asked the older of the two if they found anything interesting. Apparently they found a 9mm Beretta, which was handed in and later found about 30 meat cleaving tools in one place. They were also handed in, but why were they thrown in the canal in the first place?
I went into The Black Horse about 6pm for a pint and was very surprised at the layout of the bars. There were several and on different levels, because the pub was built on a bank at the side of the canal. Most of the tables were set for meals with flowers and cutlery, so more restaurant than pub, but they had three real ales on tap. Rather than go into detail of the pub, there is a very good description and photographs here:- http://www.beerintheevening.com/pubs/s/29/29363/Black_Horse/Great_Linford
I looked at the menu, as I always do and it was very attractive, so I ordered the crispy sticky duck on a bed of grated carrot and mooli with sweet chilli sauce and hoisin, after which I had delicious homemade profiteroles, very attractively served it all was too. The beer was £4.05 a pint, which was dear enough, but not £6.15 as mentioned in the #BITE review.
Tuesday 23rd May
I moved on towards Stoke Bruerne, again with the skin tank tap almost closed. The temperature rose to the normal 75°C when the engine thermostat opens, climbing further to 80°C, where it seemed to stay for a further hour or more. As I increased the speed, so it climbed further to 90° and then 100°. As I approached the Stoke Locks and went up with another boat, the temp dropped to 80°C, as it was on tickover for most of that time. It looks as though minimal throughput to the skin tank is the answer, but getting that setting just right can only be done by long term trial and error.
The boat going up the Stoke Locks with me was nb Morgan. The husband had only bought the boat in December and had been in China for 3 months, where he married a Chinese girl. She was left in charge of the boat through the locks and obviously had not done it before. He was instructing her every move in the locks from the lockside and it was up to me to decide which side of the lock to enter, depending on which side the stern had settled, usually with the rest of the boat diagonally across the lock. We managed very well with him doing the gates and paddles and then walking up to set the next one, while I stopped and closed up after us.
Reaching the top pound, Mike Partridge spotted me and suggested that I moor in front of nb Sculptor, which is part of the museum moorings and authorised by Kathryn Dodington, who has taken over David Blagrove’s role in this respect, so I was privileged to be in pole position and could stay for two days at least.
A privileged mooring.
Kathryn came on board for a chat and we both went to the Indian restaurant for a very good meal later, as always.